Ghosts of the past 3

The film that was inside the camera that you just bought holds images of days gone by.
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GrahamS
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Ghosts of the past 3

Post by GrahamS »

While sorting through a box of old family photographs, I came across some photos of my paternal grandfather, Giovanni Junior. We called him "Big John" because he was a big man with a big Roman nose. He married my grandmother, Ethel Dennis in London in 1912. He was an automobile salesman and mechanic. He volunteered for the British Army Signals Core on the outbreak of the Great War and saw action at the battle of the Somme and at Ypres. Photographs show him as an ambulance or lorry driver. Because he was an automobile electrician and mechanic and because the army were replacing horse-drawn transport with motor transport, he was seconded to the transport corps as there was a shortage of men who knew how to drive a motor ambulance, or who could repair one in the field. According to my great-grandmother, towards the end of the war at the Somme he was “blown up” in a big explosion and landed in a river of mud. The mud saved his life. He was then pensioned by the Army and repatriated back to London.

With his army pension money Giovanni Jr (John) and his wife Ethel (nee’ Dennis) and their two children joined his brother Lucio in South Africa in 1922. Lucio purchased a large farm north of Johannesburg which was called Craighall. A third child, Julia (Julie) was born soon after.

I have his war medals and his fob-watch. Here are the photos I found.
Giovanni Jr (Big John) 1914.jpg
Giovanni Serretta London 1914
Big_John_and_mates_1916 Web.jpg
Giovanni (in driver's seat) and colleagues with their ambulance in Dover en-route to calais in 1916
Big_John_and_mates_Calais 1916_Web.jpg
Giovanni (on left) with his crew and their Wolseley ambulance at Calais in 1916
Giovanni Jr and family at Craighall Web.jpg
L-R: My father Denis, Giovanni (Big John), Julia (seated on log) Ethel (my grandmother) and Ginny at Craighall, 1927.
Giovanni Jr (Big John) 1976.jpg
Big John (Giovanni Jr) 1976


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Re: Ghosts of the past 3

Post by PFMcFarland »

A brave and lucky man.

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Re: Ghosts of the past 3

Post by Bennybee »

Great story and great pictures. Thanks for sharing!
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Re: Ghosts of the past 3

Post by Julio1fer »

Great family story.
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Re: Ghosts of the past 3

Post by alexvaras »

Wonderful memories and photos.
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Re: Ghosts of the past 3

Post by titrisol »

It is amazing how photogrpahy can freeze time. Love it, and great family!
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Re: Ghosts of the past 3 Addendum

Post by GrahamS »

In 1962 my parents purchased land and built a house in Craighall, which had become a suburb on the outskirts of northern Johannesburg. The remains of the foundations of my great-grandfather's house and dairy were nearby, a short hike away through the veld. My father had no knowledge of his grandfather owning the original farm called "Craighall" until I researched the family history. He could have purchased land anywhere around Johannesburg to build a house. I have always felt that he was led to Craighall by a power beyond our ken.
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Re: Ghosts of the past 3

Post by Santiago Montenegro »

Lovely story and pics
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Re: Ghosts of the past 3

Post by PFMcFarland »

Interesting. Amazing that they would settle on that place, not knowing the history behind it.

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